|11 September 2001>News Stories>President Outlines Vision for 'New War'
President Outlines Vision for 'New War'
Elisabeth Bumiller . NYTimes . 20 September
WASHINGTON, Sept. 20 —
President Bush, in an extraordinary address to a joint session of Congress, demanded that Afghanistan's ruling Taliban immediately deliver the leaders of Osama bin Laden's terror network to the United States and close down every terrorist camp in the country or face the full military wrath of the United States.
"These demands are not open to negotiation or discussion," the president said. "The Taliban must act and act immediately. They will hand over the terrorists, or they will share in their fate."
The president implored the nation tonight for its support and patience in what he described as a coming global struggle led by the United States against terrorism. The president made it clear that the fight would be long, and that Americans should be prepared for casualties.
"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have seen," a somber, purposeful Mr. Bush told Congress and a national television audience. "It may include dramatic strikes, visible on television, and covert operations, secret even in success."
The war, Mr. Bush added, would not be like the swift battle against Iraq a decade ago. Nor would it be like battles America has fought in the Balkans. "It will not look like the air war above Kosovo two years ago," the president said, "where no ground troops were used and not a single American was lost in combat."
Mr. Bush received sustained applause as he entered the House of Representatives and members of Congress rose in a standing ovation and cheered when he was introduced.
He opened his speech by introducing Lisa Beamer of Cranbury, N.J., the wife of Todd Beamer, 32, a passenger aboard the hijacked plane that crashed in Pennsylvania who reportedly help lead an effort to regain control of the plane.
Early on in his speech, Mr. Bush thanked Britain and its prime minister — Tony Blair, who was seated in the audience — saying that the United States had never had a "truer friend."
The most sustained applause — and another standing ovation — came when he the President acknowledged Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Gov. George E. Pataki.
Mr. Bush's speech, which was interrupted about 30 times with applause and cheering, was his most extensive address to Americans since four hijacked jetliners on suicide missions crashed into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and a quiet field in southwestern Pennsylvania, killing possibly more than 6,000 people.
The president sought to calm an anxious nation. He announced that Governor Tom Ridge of Pennsylvania, a close friend and former Marine, would assume a cabinet-level position as the head of a newly created Office of Homeland Security. The office, he said, would oversee more than a dozen federal agencies, including the C.I.A. and the Department of Defense, in an attempt to prevent attacks like those on the Pentagon and World Trade Center.
"Americans have known surprise attacks, but never before on thousands of civilians," Mr. Bush said. "All of this was brought upon us in a single day, and night fell on a different world."
Mr. Bush compared the terrorists who plotted and carried out last week's attacks to the worst mass murderers of the 20th century.
"We are not deceived by their pretenses to piety. We have seen their kind before," Mr. Bush said. "They are the heirs to all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century. By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism. And they will follow that path all the way to where it ends, in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."
Mr. Bush faced tonight several remarkable and contradictory challenges as he described to the nation how he would face down a threat unlike any that has faced an American president.
He had to convey a sense of safety to an American public that is feeling more vulnerable than at any moment since World War II. Yet to justify the war on which he embarks, he had to convey a sense of the threat that terrorism poses to the country.
And he had at once to convey a sense of urgency while pleading for patience as he and his military map out a complex global campaign.
Finally, he had to convey a sense of command, something that seemed conspicuously missing during his early months in office and the first day of the crisis.
Mr. Bush used his speech to lay out some of what his administration knows about Mr. bin Laden, the Saudi-born multimillionaire who is the prime suspect behind the attacks. He added that unless Americans take the fight to nations that harbor men like Mr. Bin Laden, the attacks in New York and Washington would not be the last on American soil.
Mr. Bush spoke as an American military buildup continued in the Middle East and Southwest Asia, with United States warplanes in striking distance of Afghanistan and a top Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Charles Wald, positioned at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudia Arabia to run an air war from the region. The Secretary of the Army, Thomas E. White, also said today that ground troops would be sent to the area.
Mr. Bush emphasized that the war would not simply be an air campaign. "We will direct every resource at our command, every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence and every necessary weapon of war to the disruption and defeat of the global terror network," he said. A senior administration official, asked if "every weapon of war" included nuclear weapons, responded, "I would not interpret it that way."
The president did not give any indication of when the war would start, and did not further define for a worried American public what form the war might take. He did not say whether Americans could expect their sons and daughters to be called up and sent to the mountain ranges of Afghanistan, and he did not say whether a "long campaign" meant one year or ten.
Although the president's speech drew inevitable comparisons to Franklin D. Roosevelt's "date which will live in infamy" speech delivered to Congress nearly 60 years ago, Mr. Bush's advisers went out of their way to say that tonight's words about the wounds inflicted on Manhattan and the Pentagon were without historical parallel.
"This is not Pearl Harbor," the president's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, said before the speech, noting that after the 1941 Japanese attack, Americans had a clear enemy and target.
The speech was delivered in an atmosphere of extraordinary security. Vice President Dick Cheney, who normally would have sat directly behind the president, was kept out of the Capitol building entirely, a precaution intended to leave the country with a leader should there have been an attack on the assembled high command of the United States.
Ari Fleischer, the White House press secretary, would say only that Mr. Cheney was at "a different location." As is traditional, a member of the president's cabinet was also kept at another location.
At the far end of the front row was William Fischer, a 16-year veteran of the New York Police Departments Emergency Service Unit. Mr. Fischer was off duty at the time of the attack on the World Trade Center, but immediately went to the scene and has been there every day since. Next to Mr. Fischer sat Battalion Chief John A. Jonas of the New York City Fire Department, whose unit was among the first to respond to the attack. Mr. Jonas and his unit helped evacuate hundreds of people from the north tower, then found themselves trapped by debris for more than three hours before they escaped.
In the third row of the gallery were New York City Police Commissioner Bernard B. Kerik, New York City Fire Commissioner Thomas Von Essen and Richard Sheirer, the director of the New York City Office of Emergency Management.
Mr. Blair had been Mr. Bush's dinner guest tonight at the White House, after a lengthy meeting in which administration officials said the two leaders discussed the military and intelligence assets that Britain might lend to the conflict. Administration officials have said that the one country they expect to contribute troops to the war on terrorism is Britain, which lost an estimated 300 people at the World Trade Center.
In the days since then, Mr. Blair has sought the support of African and Arab nations for concerted action, and has served as a spokesman for rapid military retaliation.
Mr. Bush also met today with the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, who arrived in Washington with a large entourage of Saudi intelligence officers and an official dossier on Mr. bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network.
White House officials have said they would ask Prince Saud for intelligence on terrorist groups and for the kingdom's cooperation in retaliating against Mr. bin Laden. A senior United States Air Force officer has been dispatched to Saudi Arabia to oversee a buildup of American air power in the region and any possible military strikes in the region.
Mr. Bush's speech, by far the most important of his young presidency, was the product of extensive work of the White House staff. While Roosevelt wrote his six-and-a-half-minute "day of infamy" speech himself, and delivered it on Dec. 8, 1941, the day after the Pearl Harbor attack, Mr. Bush's speech drew on his entire speechwriting staff as well as on the National Security Council and Karen P. Hughes, one of the president's closest advisers.
Mr. Fleischer said that Mr. Bush had been practicing the speech since Wednesday night and regularly seeking out advice.
"He's been frequently calling Karen to talk about what it is he wants to say," Mr. Fleischer said.
Earlier today, Mr. Bush met at the White House with a large group of religious leaders, including representatives of the Roman Catholic, Muslim, Sikh and Buddhist faiths.
Imam Hamza Hanson, a teacher of Islamic law and theology from Heywood, Calif., said after the meeting with the president, "Islam was hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001 on that plane as an innocent victim." The imam was seated in the gallery for tonight's speech.
Mr. Bush said tonight that the target of American wrath was not any faith or nation, but those responsible for the calamity of Sept. 11.
"The enemy of America is not our many Muslim friends, it is not our many Arab friends," Mr. Bush said. "Our enemy is a radical network of terrorists and every government that supports them."